Aussie rooftop solar now 5% of total generation capacity: IEA

Rooftop solar PV now accounts for around 5 per cent of electricity capacity and 2 per cent of electricity generation in Australia, according to a report from the International Energy Agency.

The new data from the IEA’s Photovoltaic Systems Program annual report shows that around 850MW of solar PV was installed in 2013 in Australia, mainly as small- scale residential solar systems.

The data, taken to the end of 2013, also shows that PV system sizes in Australia have continued to increase, despite increased restrictions on PV power exports to the grid, and low or zero rates now paid for exported power.

According to the report, the average size of residential rooftop solar PV systems increased from 1kW in 2009 to 4kW in 2013. In just the last three years, the size of the system has more than doubled, and the total capacity has risen three-fold.

The report also notes that module prices continued to drop from $1.30 per watt in 2012 to around 75c/watt, while installed prices for small residential systems dropped from an average of around $3/watt to around $2.50 watt.

“With continued increases in grid electricity prices, PV is a cost effective option for homeowners across Australia and is of increasing interest to the commercial sector,” the report said.

However, it warned that development of Australia’s commercial PV market was hampered by the lack of standardised procedures or rights to connect, while the residential market may be impacted by restrictions, fees and other disincentives.

“If imposed, these could result in further market contraction in 2014.”

The report also noted increasing customer interest in on-site energy storage, despite it not yet being cost effective for most customers.

“This trend could exacerbate issues faced by incumbent electricity sector businesses,” the report said, “even if it offers a means to manage supply intermittency and peak demand, since it would facilitate the installation of larger PV systems and may also see a trend to self-sufficiency and disconnection of customers from main grids.”

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson